Do­ing the math on health care leg­is­la­tion and the costs of care

The Denver Post - - OPINION - Re: Re: Smith Young, Carol H. Ehrlich, Richard Fritz,

“Gard­ner needs to do the math on health care and take a stand,” July 9 Diane Carman col­umn.

Diane Carman should demon­strate more at­ten­tion to math­e­mat­i­cal de­tail. She points out that the non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mates that 22 mil­lion more Amer­i­cans will be unin­sured if the Bet­ter Care Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act is passed, but fails to men­tion that the fed­eral deficit will be re­duced by $321 bil­lion.

Carman quotes Car­rie Ann Lu­cas as say­ing some sort of sin­gle-payer sys­tem is in­evitable and it’s the only way the math works. That’s a pe­cu­liarly sad in­dict­ment on our free-mar­ket sys­tem that gave us the best health care in the world.

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“Facts about Se­nate health care bill and CBO re­port,” July 9 let­ter to the ed­i­tor.

Let­ter-writer Jimmy Sen­gen­berger seems not to re­al­ize that elim­i­nat­ing the health care man­date is pre­cisely the rea­son why his par­ents will have high pre­mi­ums and high de­ductibles. The only way in­sur­ance can work rea­son­ably is with a pool that com­bines low-cost with high­cost mem­bers.

Trump­care as presently de­signed will re­sult in loss of many low-cost mem­bers with a re­sult­ing pool of mostly high-cost mem­bers. What does he ex­pect for his par­ents but in­creases in pre­mi­ums and de­ductibles? We had bet­ter come to grips with the fact that some to­tal-cov­er­age plan (like sin­gle-payer sys­tems) is the only way the math will work — as Diane Carman makes clear in her es­say on Sen. Cory Gard­ner.

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De­spite their names, the Af­ford­able Care Act, the Amer­i­can Health Care Act, and now the Bet­ter Care Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act are re­ally not about health care. They are all about in­sur­ance, which masks the charged costs of med­i­cal care. To solve the health care cost cri­sis, we need to un­der­stand the charges that med­i­cal providers sub­mit. That’s usu­ally shown on an in­surer’s ex­pla­na­tion of ben­e­fits, but they can be ig­nored by the in­sur­ance pol­icy holder who doesn’t have to pay them. When one is ad­mit­ted to a hospi­tal emer­gency room or doc­tor’s of­fice, the ques­tion is never “What will this cost?” but rather “What is the in­sur­ance com­pany?”

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